Hannover Messe Digital Edition Wrap Up

Hannover Messe experienced from my home office was a different experience. The Messe people built a good platform for “booth” appointments and press conferences. It was reasonably (not perfectly) easy to use. I had a number of good interviews. They did try for networking, but I haven’t seen a single digital networking interface that has really worked.

When I talked with marketing people from exhibiting companies, I received a mixed bag of responses about their experiences. Some had had enough good interactions to justify the investment. Some did not. I have no idea why the disparity. This press release from the Messe organizers tells us that they intend to bring the physically located event back but also to maintain a digital component. This hybrid event should expand the reach. 2022 will be interesting.

“The HANNOVER MESSE Digital Edition demonstrated the innovative power of mechanical engineering, electrical engineering and IT companies. At the same time, it showed that the tradeshow of the future is hybrid,” said Dr. Jochen Köckler, CEO of Deutsche Messe AG. “Together with our exhibitors and partners, we succeeded in strengthening the core brand of the world’s most important industrial show: innovation, inspiration and networking in the age of industrial transformation – that is what HANNOVER MESSE stands for.”

German Chancellor Angela Merkel opened the world’s leading tradeshow for industry on Monday together with Joko Widodo, President of the Republic of Indonesia. The 1,800 participating companies presented 10,500 products and innovations to 90,000 registered participants. The conference featured 1,500 experts discussing topics such as Industry 4.0, digitalization of industrial processes, supply chain management, lightweight construction, hydrogen, and electromobility.

“The positive response to the digital HANNOVER MESSE exceeded our expectations. At the same time, we saw that a digital tradeshow cannot replace the magic of a physical event,” reported Köckler, citing trust-building face-to-face discussions, concrete leads at the booth and the hands-on product experience as well as chance encounters that can lead to new business partnerships. “The personal contact simply is not there.”

“The digital HANNOVER MESSE confirmed that we are on the right path. Based on our experience this week, in the future we will bring together the best of the digital and analog worlds to provide our customers with a holistic hybrid tradeshow experience,” added Köckler.

During the five days of the live show, the 90,000 participants generated more than 3.5 million page views and submitted 700,000 search queries in the exhibitor and product search. In addition, the new conference and exhibitor live streams attracted approximately 140,000 views. “The HANNOVER MESSE Digital Edition 2021was a successful test case for us in every respect. We wanted to see which concrete benefits digital formats deliver to our exhibitors and visitors,” explained Köckler.

“Among other things, we now know that we are reaching completely new exhibitors and visitors. When we transfer this knowledge to our physical events, we maximize the bandwidth of our tradeshows many times over. In this way, we increase the relevance of HANNOVER MESSE,” concluded Köckler.

Beginning 19 April, all content from the HANNOVER MESSE Digital Edition will be available here. Interested parties who missed the live week can register to learn more about the exhibitors and products and watch the keynotes and panel discussions on demand.

The leading German industrial associations agree with Deutsche Messe’s assessment.

“I pay greatest respect to the organizers of the HANNOVER MESSE Digital Edition for a very successful event in pandemic times. The fair management put together an innovative format that demonstrates the capabilities of our industry despite Corona,” said Siegfried Russwurm, president of the Federation of German Industries (BDI). “The gathering of politicians, suppliers and business users from all around the world is an important signal to focus on innovative strength. More than ever it is important to grow out of the Corona crisis with new solutions and business models.”

“This year’s HANNOVER MESSE showed that the brand is also appealing in a digital format and continues to bring exhibitors and customers together. The electrical industry presented numerous product innovations and remains a key player in the global Industrie 4.0 movement that began at HANNOVER MESSE ten years ago,” said Dr. Gunther Kegel, president of the German Association of Electrical Engineering and Electronics Industries (ZVEI) and CEO of Pepperl + Fuchs SE. “Today, the ‘Industrie 4.0′ brand enjoys worldwide recognition and, together with AI and 5G, strengthens Germany’s competitive position as a manufacturing location. Our industry needs a strong exhibition location, which in the future will be a mixture of physical and digital offers.”

“HANNOVER MESSE is and remains the international showcase for industry even in times of Corona. This year’s Digital Edition brought companies, politics, media and many viewers from all over the world online to present fascinating technologies and discuss important topics,” said Thilo Brodtmann, CEO of the Association of German Machinery and Plant Manufacturers (VDMA). “Mechanical and plant engineering play a key role in industrial transformation. This applies to climate-neutral production and the mobility of tomorrow as well as intelligent production and logistics technologies.”

The next HANNOVER MESSE runs from 25 to 29 April 2022. Portugal is Partner Country.

5,000 Blog Posts And Counting

The blogging phenomenon popped onto my radar most likely in 2002. By 2003, it was getting serious, and I was reading a number of them in Google Reader (sadly defunct, now I use Feedly). I freed up some personal time and played around with developing a site–eventually called Gary Mintchell’s Radio Weblog. It was on the Radio Userland platform developed by blogging and podcasting pioneer Dave Winer.

I started posting in 2003. I now have two active blogs and two or three others that I started for specific purposes and ended. This week I posted my 5,000th blog post. That’s approximately 1.5 million words. A few of them interesting.

At any rate, I’m still posting. Topics have changed over the years here–as with a couple of name changes. The current name was chosen in 2013 to reflect the growing importance of connections to manufacturing technology. And connections remain at the heart–only now not so much controllers (PLCs and DCSs) as IoT to Edge to Cloud and all the software interfaces.

Thanks for reading. And thanks to all the companies who have sponsored the site since 2014. Especially Inductive Automation, who has been a consistent sponsor for years.

Reports from Interact Analysis, China, Robots, Drives

Interact Analysis performs research on markets differently from other analyst firms. I’ve appreciated this British company’s insights. It has been sending a constant stream of reports lately. As I’ve been catching up with a flood of news, I’ve consolidated three recent research reports.

The first from CEO and Senior Research Director, Adrian Lloyd.

Manufacturing Recovery Post Covid

China was the first country to be hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, and the authorities’ fierce suppression of the virus has meant it was the first major region to emerge from it. In the Chinese manufacturing sector, the recovery was particularly striking, to the extent that by mid-April 2020, the operating rate of Chinese industrial enterprises exceeded 90%. Interact Analysis has published its latest update to its Manufacturing Industry Output Tracker (MIO). 

This latest edition of the MIO confirms the upwards revisions to predictions made in November 2020. The return to growth for China’s manufacturing industry in Q3 of 2020, and sustained growth in Q4 has turned Interact Analysis’s forecast for the full-year from negative to positive. We now expect that China will enjoy a +1.9% increase in overall manufacturing output for 2020, as opposed to our forecast back in August, which suggested a -3.5% decline. 6.0% growth is expected for 2021. This is good news for China.

Rapid rebound for many industries, including automotive

The national Bureau of Statistics of China has reported that the total value-added of industrial enterprises increased by 2.8% last year. The production of industrial robots, new energy vehicles, integrated circuits and micro computer equipment grew by 19%, 17.3%, 16.2% and 12.7% year-on-year, respectively. Significantly, the growth rate of the automotive industry increased compared to 2019. This is quite exceptional given that on a global level the automotive sector has been a serious casualty of the pandemic.

The recovery of China’s manufacturing confidence from the second quarter of 2020 onwards is reflected in the manufacturing PMI, a market sentiment indicator, which clearly describes a v-shaped recovery coming out of Q1.

In December 2020 China’s (PMI) was 51.9%, down by 0.2% from the previous month, but it was above the 50.0% threshold for ten consecutive months, indicating that manufacturing industry has continued to make a steady recovery.

Of the five sub-indices composing PMI, the production index and the new orders index were above the threshold, while the supplier delivery time index, main raw materials inventory index and employment index were below. The production index was 54.2%, down by 0.5 percentage points from last month, but it still stayed above the threshold, indicating that the growth rate of manufacturing production has slightly slowed down but is still higher than the value posted in August.

The new orders index was 53.6 percent, down by 0.3 percentage points from the previous month, but it still stayed above the threshold, indicating that demand was continuing to grow. The supplier delivery time index dipped just below the threshold from 50.1% in November to 49.9% in December, indicating that the delivery time of raw material suppliers in the manufacturing industry was slightly slower than that of last month and slightly down from the August value. In spite of the slight dips, the scores for these three indices ensured that the overall PMI stayed above the threshold.

The performance of China’s Q3 2020 export market has been a key influencer impacting China’s full-year outlook for 2020. Both import and export operations in the region have been improving. The total value of imports and exports for the first three quarters combined increased by 0.7% year-on-year. Across the year so far, Q1 fell by -6.5%, Q2 fell by -0.2%, and Q3 rose by 7.5%. In December, the growth rate of exports dipped slightly by 3% month-on-month, however, it remained 18.1% up on the 2019 value. As of December, China’s exports have achieved positive year-on-year growth for seven consecutive months. 

China’s manufacturing industry recovery is setting the pace globally, and defying expectations.  While global manufacturing output growth is expected to drop by -3.9% in 2020, it will increase by +1.9% in China. The latest data suggests that, in 2021, both global and Chinese manufacturing output will increase by more than 6%, as we hopefully leave the pandemic behind us.  The robustness of China’s industrial chain has shown through during the pandemic. And increased investment in automation upgrades is likely to further consolidate the position and share of China’s manufacturing industry overall.

Robot Market

The second report is from Research Analyst Mayo Xiao on the industrial robot market.

Recent news for the industrial robots market hasn’t been cheering, but the future for the sector looks good, with global shipments forecast to increase by over 9% in 2021, and a CAGR of 4.6% forecast for the period 2021-2024.

Major revisions in previous forecasts brought about by unprecedented events

The Covid-19 pandemic has not been the only drag on the economy in the past couple of years. Even pre-Covid, 2019 was not a good year. As reported by the IMF in July 2019, the global economy was dipping before the pandemic hit the world. Sino-US tariff wars, weak demand from the global automotive and electronics industries, Brexit-related uncertainty and geo-political tensions all played their part in subduing global growth. Then came the virus to further disrupt an already weak economy. 

The robotics industry was hit particularly hard in those two years, seeing continuous negative growth. In our new industrial robots report, Interact Analysis highlights the downturn for robotics by looking at our own predictions made in Q3 2019 in the second edition of the report, and comparing them with revised figures made in the new third edition.

The chart above shows the effect of the slow-down in 2019 on the robotics industry, when shipments fell by 5.4%, and the profounder effect of the pandemic of 2020 when they fell by 5.9%. Put more starkly, there were 80,000 unit shipments less in 2020 than previously forecast.

Although earlier forecast figures for the longer term are not now going to be realised, Interact Analysis has identified strong drivers for the increasing use of automation and industrial robots. These include new industry applications and reducing prices. Revenues are forecast to accelerate in 2021 with an increase of 9.2% in revenue terms and 9.6% in shipment terms. Thereafter there will be a steady uptick in shipments.

All classes of robot except articulated robots are predicted to return to 2019 shipment levels before 2021. The sluggish market growth rate of articulated robots is explained by their predominant use in the automotive industry, which has been hit badly in the past two years. This downturn is predicted to continue. SCARA robots, used for light duty pick and place and assembly operations, have suffered delayed demand in the 3C industry but are predicted to rebound swiftly as their potential for use in different applications is recognised. 

Market growth for Delta robots, used in the food and beverage and pharmaceutical sectors will be steady, whilst Collaborative robots are expected to show negative growth for the first time in 2020, but their growth rate is predicted to be an impressive 15-20% year-on-year up to 2028. They are currently strongly established in the electronics sector, but they are a relatively nascent technology offering the potential to be applied across a range of sectors. Cartesian robots are, like SCARA robots, used in material handling. Other applications include pick & place and packaging. Their advantage over SCARA robots is that they offer heavier payload options, and it is these that will drive their market.

The pattern of regional recovery for the industrial robot sector is very similar to that of other industrial sectors. The virus started in the Asian regions, and then moved to Europe and North America, and the infection continues to spread. As a result, normal business operations will resume earlier in the Asia-Pacific region, and this will impact on robot shipments in those areas, most notably in China, where stringent measures had brought the virus under control by May 2020. The impact of the virus on the industrial robot sector in the Asian regions, particularly China, has in fact been relatively small, and the Chinese market is the only one forecast to surpass 2019 levels by 2021. This is in the main due to the large domestic demand in China. Covid-19 has had greater impact on foreign trade.

Interact Analysis predicts that by 2023 all regions will have surpass 2019 levels of industrial robot shipments, with China and North America achieving the highest growth rates.

Suppliers – The Big Four forge ahead – for now. Prices set to drop

Where suppliers of industrial robots are concerned there are many new entrants to the market bringing with them exciting new technologies, but 4 major manufacturers – Fanuc, Yaskawa, ABB and Kuka – took an estimated 58% of revenues in the world market in 2019 and continue to dominate. The market has been led by articulated robot suppliers, because of their many payload options and the industries and applications they can serve but take note of the slowdown in articulated robot sales noted earlier. Things may change, especially with the promised coming of age of the collaborative robot.  Japan is home to most leading suppliers, including the world leaders in industrial robots, Fanuc and Yaskawa.

Although the technology used in robots is becoming more advanced, Interact Analysis forecasts the price of industrial robots will continue to fall at a rate of around 3-5% a year from 2019 to 2024 – a likely significant driver of investment by end-users.

Finally, a report from Senior Analyst Blake Griffin about variable frequency drives used for predictive maintenance.

Drives and Predictive Maintenance

Predictive maintenance is fast becoming recognised as one of the more easily exploited applications of that popular but not always easily defined concept in industry – digitalization. Also known as Industry 4.0, digitalization remains a broad concept which can be difficult to justify in terms of investment. One aspect of digitalization, however, stands out as worthy of swift and serious consideration: predictive maintenance. Predictive maintenance can save millions of dollars of lost output by pre-empting production line downtime. In our predictive maintenance report, researchers at Interact Analysis have turned their focus on the ability of motor drives to perform predictive maintenance diagnostics not only on themselves, but also on the equipment they control, potentially saving millions in machinery downtime. This technology, whilst in its early days, is expected to be a key enabler of predictive maintenance initiatives as it opens up a new stream of data for both OEMs and end-users to tap into.

More than just a drive

Motor drives can be highly sophisticated pieces of equipment, capable of performing diagnostics on themselves, and giving signals to alert engineers when maintenance is necessary, thereby avoiding breakdowns and subsequent costly machinery downtime. Companies such as Siemens have recognised the potential of this predictive maintenance technology and offer it as a service to end-users through their digitalization platform called Analyze MyDrives. 

However, drives can do more than diagnostics on themselves. For example, they can monitor the status of the motor they are controlling by measuring the voltage and current the motor requires to perform a task in real-time. This data is used to control torque and motor speed, but it can also be used to identify the imminent failure of a component in a motor. Drives vendors will argue that voltage and current measures give more sophisticated insights into motor failure than the standard monitoring of vibration.

As OEMs and end-users are beginning to recognize the value of data housed in the smart devices driving their systems, some drives vendors are developing software for their products which are aimed at making the process of gathering, organizing, and monitoring trends in this data easier. One of the earliest pioneers of this technology, and one of the strongest voices, has been Danfoss. The company has already brought this technology onboard with their VLT AutomationDrive and it is a great example of this trend in action.

Vendors offering drives incorporating predictive maintenance software need to ask themselves these questions:

  • What data will be captured, and how?
  • Where will the data be analysed?
  • What is the most cost-effective option?

These questions have significance in terms of the capabilities of the drive from a predictive maintenance perspective. This is where vendors need be ready to respond to end-user needs when developing their products.

Big players likely to be first in the queue for drive-based predictive maintenance technology

As a general rule, the bigger the motor, the greater the financial loss when it stands idle for repair. We believe the industries that will be first in the queue for motor drives offering predictive maintenance capabilities will be those using the largest and most expensive machinery. Additionally, process industries in which downtime could represent the loss of a batch being manufactured are expected to adopt predictive maintenance early. These industries are likely to include metals, oil and gas, water and waste-water, power, chemicals and pharmaceuticals, and various other sectors involving large industrial processes. As well as being the largest, they are also some of the swiftest growing sectors in the market.

The potential for savings in these areas through predictive maintenance is huge. Automotive, another big player on the industrial landscape, has already started utilizing predictive maintenance technologies. We anticipate these larger industries, often with multiple sites, will use a combination of edge and cloud computing for predictive maintenance analytics.

Smaller-scale industries may be slower to adopt predictive maintenance owing to cost issues, but we can expect these operations to increase their demand for drives that can diagnose issues on the spot, on the motors they are controlling.

Drive vendors offering equipment with smart sensor capability include ABB, Siemens and Danfoss. The ABB Ability Smart Sensor transfers data to a secure server via Bluetooth and can be used on traditional motors, pumps and bearing blocks. The Siemens SIMOTIQ IQ uses Bluetooth to communicate through gateways known as Connect 300 or Connect 400 to the cloud. Predictive maintenance enabled drive vendors include Rockwell Automation, Danfoss, and Schneider Electric. The Schneider AltivarProcess 630, used in a range of settings including pumping, lifting, aeration and compression operations can analyse data on the drive itself, or send it to an external network for processing.

Digital Twin Consortium Partners with LF Edge on Digital Twin/Edge Platform Interoperability

Work targeted to fleshing out the Edge continues. This news from LF Edge and the Digital Twin Consortium hits one of my keywords—interoperability. Industry does progress.

The Digital Twin Consortium, which coalesces industry, government, and academia to advance digital twin technology, announced a partnership with LF Edge, an umbrella organization within the Linux Foundation, that aims to establish an open, interoperable framework for edge computing independent of hardware, silicon, cloud, or operating system. Through the liaison, Digital Twin Consortium will work closely with LF Edge’s EdgeX Foundry, an open source, loosely coupled microservices framework. The two organizations will identify and solve common problems in the establishment, management, and operation of digital twins through edge computing platforms. 

The liaison has been established to:

  • Showcase how a common approach to digital twin technology can allow edge platforms connected to real-world entities to interoperate with virtual representations easily and flexibly.
  • Accelerate EdgeX Foundry’s adoption of digital-twin-enabling technology and techniques. Specifically, explore EdgeX’s adoption of the Digital Twin Consortium digital twin reference architecture patterns to demonstrate interoperability.
  • Collaborate on open-source projects to facilitate the implementation and consumption of Digital Twin Consortium platform stack reference architecture, guidelines, and related deliverables. Collaborate with LF Edge on the language, definitions, and taxonomy used to discuss digital twin technology. 

“To advance edge computing, we need a global ecosystem that supports interoperability,” said Arpit Joshipura, general manager, Networking, Automation, Edge and IoT, the Linux Foundation. “With this collaboration, EdgeX Foundry aims to adopt and showcase the Digital Twin Consortium reference architecture and make it easier for developers to connect any digital twin to physical devices/sensors via EdgeX Foundry in their edge solutions.”

“Edge computing enables a new wave of applications and capabilities in many industries, especially when joined with other technologies, such as 5G, IoT, and digital twin,” said Dr. Said Tabet, Chief Architect, Office of the CTO, Dell Technologies, and Digital Twin Consortium Steering Committee member. “The agreement between LF Edge and Digital Twin Consortium sets the stage for a collaboration that will facilitate the integration of edge platforms and digital twin technologies.”

“We are excited about our collaboration with LF Edge’s EdgeX Foundry,” said Dan Isaacs, Chief Technical Officer, Digital Twin Consortium. “Their knowledge and experience in the integration of edge platforms within organizations will be invaluable as our organizations collaborate to advance the use of digital twin technology.”

Breakthrough Sensing Technology Boosts Both Medical and Manufacturing Applications

Just received this news from Nottingham University about a breakthrough sensing technology. Its immediate application is detecting at the cell level in a patient. However, there are potential applications for precision manufacturing. What do you think you could do with it?

Scientists at the University of Nottingham have developed an ultrasonic imaging system, which can be deployed on the tip of a hair-thin optical fibre, and will be insertable into the human body to visualise cell abnormalities in 3D. 

The new technology produces microscopic and nanoscopic resolution images that will one day help clinicians to examine cells inhabiting hard-to-reach parts of the body, such as the gastrointestinal tract, and offer more effective diagnoses for diseases ranging from gastric cancer to bacterial meningitis.

The high level of performance the technology delivers is currently only possible in state-of-the-art research labs with large, scientific instruments – whereas this compact system has the potential to bring it into clinical settings to improve patient care.

The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)-funded innovation also reduces the need for conventional fluorescent labels – chemicals used to examine cell biology under a microscope – which can be harmful to human cells in large doses. 

The findings are being reported in a new paper, entitled ‘Phonon imaging in 3D with a fibre probe’ published in the Nature journal, Light: Science & Applications.

Paper author, Dr Salvatore La Cavera III, an EPSRC Doctoral Prize Fellow from the University of Nottingham Optics and Photonics Research Group, said of the ultrasonic imaging system: “We believe its ability to measure the stiffness of a specimen, its bio-compatibility, and its endoscopic-potential, all while accessing the nanoscale, are what set it apart. These features set the technology up for future measurements inside the body; towards the ultimate goal of minimally invasive point-of-care diagnostics.”

Currently at prototype stage, the non-invasive imaging tool, described by the researchers as a “phonon probe”, is capable of being inserted into a standard optical endoscope, which is a thin tube with a powerful light and camera at the end that is navigated into the body to find, analyse, and operate on cancerous lesions, among many other diseases. Combining optical and phonon technologies could be advantageous; speeding up the clinical workflow process and reducing the number of invasive test procedures for patients.   

3D mapping capabilities

Just as a physician might conduct a physical examination to feel for abnormal ‘stiffness’ in tissue under the skin that could indicate tumours, the phonon probe will take this ‘3D mapping’ concept to a cellular level. 

By scanning the ultrasonic probe in space, it can reproduce a three-dimensional map of stiffness and spatial features of microscopic structures at, and below, the surface of a specimen (e.g. tissue); it does this with the power to image small objects like a large-scale microscope, and the contrast to differentiate objects like an ultrasonic probe. 

“Techniques capable of measuring if a tumour cell is stiff have been realised with laboratory microscopes, but these powerful tools are cumbersome, immobile, and unadaptable to patient-facing clinical settings. Nanoscale ultrasonic technology in an endoscopic capacity is poised to make that leap,” adds Dr La Cavera. 

How it works

The new ultrasonic imaging system uses two lasers that emit short pulses of energy to stimulate and detect vibrations in a specimen. One of the laser pulses is absorbed by a layer of metal – a nano-transducer (which works by converting energy from one form to another) – fabricated on the tip of the fibre; a process which results in high-frequency phonons (sound particles) getting pumped into the specimen. Then a second laser pulse collides with the sound waves, a process known as Brillouin scattering. By detecting these “collided” laser pulses, the shape of the travelling sound wave can be recreated and displayed visually.

The detected sound wave encodes information about the stiffness of a material, and even its geometry. The Nottingham team was the first to demonstrate this dual-capability using pulsed lasers and optical fibres.

The power of an imaging device is typically measured by the smallest object that can be seen by the system, i.e. the resolution. In two dimensions the phonon probe can “resolve” objects on the order of 1 micrometre, similar to a microscope; but in the third dimension (height) it provides measurements on the scale of nanometres, which is unprecedented for a fibre-optic imaging system.

Future applications

In the paper, the researchers demonstrate that the technology is compatible with both a single optical fibre and the 10-20,000 fibres of an imaging bundle (1mm in diameter), as used in conventional endoscopes. 

Consequently, superior spatial resolution and wide fields of view could routinely be achieved by collecting stiffness and spatial information from multiple different points on a sample, without needing to move the device – bringing a new class of phonon endoscopes within reach.

Beyond clinical healthcare, fields such as precision manufacturing and metrology could use this high-resolution tool for surface inspections and material characterisation; a complementary or replacement measurement for existing scientific instruments. Burgeoning technologies such as 3D bio-printing and tissue engineering could also use the phonon probe as an inline inspection tool by integrating it directly to the outer diameter of the print-needle.Next, the team will be developing a series of biological cell and tissue imaging applications in collaboration with the Nottingham Digestive Diseases Centre and the Institute of Biophysics, Imaging and Optical Science at the University of Nottingham; with the aim to create a viable clinical tool in the coming years.

Engineering Hope for a Better World – A Note from NI

This post contains a challenge for us all. I know that many companies, perhaps most, have a corporate responsibility leader and participates in some beneficial activities beyond the merely self-serving gifts. NI (formerly National Instruments) has had a vision for the advancement of engineering and public good for as long as I’ve known it. Current CEO Eric Starkloff is building on the legacy of co-founder and retired CEO Jim Truchard leading by example.

I received this “Note from NI” the other day. It is powerful enough that I thought I’d share. Perhaps we can all gain some insights and spur our innovative nature from these ideas.

Engineering Hope for a Better World

In 2020 we made our mission clear: empower engineers to tackle the world’s most pressing challenges. And while we’ve always been quietly but diligently dedicated corporate citizens, we’re facing many challenges as a society, from climate change to racial and economic inequality. And the time to be bold is now. This is why we’ve launched Engineering Hope, our 2030 Corporate Impact Strategy.

Our aspirational 2030 impact goals and commitments outline how NI will put our company, people, and products to work to make a positive impact on society and our planet. Simply put, it outlines how we’ll drive the positive change we want to see in the world – engineering can, and should, play a pivotal role in addressing the biggest challenges we collectively face today. We designed our Impact Strategy to be iterative and to scale with our business and industry. Some are moonshot goals that will challenge us to think well beyond current paradigms. And all are informed by the priorities of our stakeholders, a thorough analysis of which issues are material to our business, and the realities we see in the marketplace. We’ll work diligently to achieve our goals by 2030 and will transparently report our progress each year. As our CEO Eric Starkloff says, “if we can send rockets into space, we can achieve Zero Waste.”

What We’ve Been Up To

We got to work right out of the gate in 2021. In the first quarter, we joined OpenRF to help tackle 5G ecosystem interoperability issues and partnered with MaxLinear to simplify validation of wideband power amplifiers. In alignment with our Engineering Hope 2030 Corporate Impact Strategy goals, we partnered with Project Lead the Way to increase access to STEM education, worked with the Texas Rocket Engineering Lab at the University of Texas to prepare students for future space flight, and collaborated with Code2College to help build equitable pathways to STEM careers. The mentoring and hands-on internship component of the program directly addresses systemic underrepresentation in STEM professions. A recent study that surveyed over 550 engineering and computer science students found a key driver of the gender pay gaps is associated with self-efficacy or a confidence gap. Researchers highlighted the importance of mentoring and internships to strengthen students’ self-assessments and provide stronger bridges to engineering jobs with higher pay. Programs like Code2College help students discover their potential and the limitless opportunities that exist in STEM fields.

Check out the links below for a few more details on what we worked on over the last few months:

  • We joined OpenRF and will chair the OpenRF Compliance Working Group to address interoperability issues facing the 5G ecosystem.
  • We worked with the Texas Rocket Engineering Lab at the University of Texas to prepare students for a new era of human spaceflight through hands-on projects in rocketry and aerospace.
  • We partnered with MaxLinear to simplify the validation of wideband power amplifiers for 5G networks.
  • We announced a 10-year strategy, Engineering Hope, aimed at advancing diversity, sustainability, and equity in engineering.
  • We partnered with Project Lead the Way to increase access to STEM education in underrepresented and underserved students in Central Texas.
  • We collaborated with Code2College on their work to develop a pipeline of diverse tech talent.

At NI, we believe Engineering Ambitiously and Engineering Hope go hand-in-hand. And our 2030 Corporate Impact Strategy goals reflect as much. Through our commitment to our Impact Strategy, we are putting our company, people, and products to work to positively impact our society and planet — a commitment we do not take lightly. We voluntarily set goals informed by the priorities of our stakeholders, that reflect the realities we see in the marketplace, and represent a thorough analysis of the issues material to our business. 

We are dedicated to achieving our goals by 2030 and will transparently report our progress each year. Through our partnerships with suppliers, customers, governments, industry, and non-governmental organizations, we’ll harness the power of NI’s operations philanthropy to focus on three pillars of impact:

  • Changing the faces of engineering. Building a diverse and inclusive workforce is the right thing to do for NI, our industry, and society. But the diversity of the engineering talent pipeline hasn’t changed much in the last 20 years. In fact, the global technology sector is projected to have a shortage of 4.3 million workers by 2030. Attracting more diverse people to our industry helps us keep up with this growth while providing more equitable access to high-paying jobs. We’ll work towards this vision by increasing our workforce diversity and supporting aspiring engineers through STEM education initiatives, expanded recruitment strategies, and talent acquisition and diversity leadership programs.
  • Building an equitable and thriving society. Over time, inequalities in our systems and institutions decrease the well-being of our entire society. We envision a thriving society with fewer economic, racial, and gender inequalities and greater wellbeing and prosperity for all. Our work will begin within NI by cultivating an equitable and thriving workforce through total rewards redesigns, wellbeing programs, and ongoing employee engagement initiatives. We’ll also advance diversity within our own supply chain, and by changing the faces of engineering, we’ll increase access to higher-paying technology.
  • Engineering a healthy planet. Healthy and biodiverse ecosystems are critical to human wellbeing. We envision a world where industries and governments work together to protect and repair ecosystems and stabilize our climate by mitigating rising temperatures. We’ll do our part to reach this vision by reducing the environmental impact of NI’s operations and products, and in doing so, reduce our footprint and help our customers do the same. Each year through 2030, we’ll discount or donate NI products to organizations developing green technology, will design 100% of our new buildings or remodels to LEED and WELL standards, reduce our footprint, and make circular design improvements in our product design, manufacturing, and packaging. And by 2030, we will achieve Zero Waste at NI-owned buildings.